Some of us live by the seat of our pants. Some of us live by our calendars, totally dependent upon the plan for the day. Some of us are relatively good at planning. Some are desperate for help. What then might God’s Word have to teach us in this area of planning? This Sunday, we’ll look to Proverbs to find God’s wisdom for our planning. The book of Proverbs actually has a good bit to say on the subject, but it doesn’t say everything. We find connecting points throughout Scripture, with one of those in Matthew 6. As we look there, let us remember two important rules for Biblical interpretation: 1) Scripture interprets Scripture, and 2) Scripture never contradicts Scripture. These are important rules to revisit as it can be tempting to read Matthew 6:25-34 and think the passage is calling us to just completely throw the idea of planning out the window. Yet these rules of interpretation help guide us to see that the passage is actually advancing our understanding of Godly planning…and maybe telling us to throw something else out the window instead.
Wednesday, August 21st
Larger Portion of Scripture - Matthew 6
Focused Passage for Reflection - Matthew 6:25-34
Reflecting on the Text:
“Worry is a sin.” It was one of my wife’s grandmother’s favorite sayings. If I close my eyes and sit still, I can almost hear her rich southern drawl utter those words. She didn’t say them because she had lived a carefree life. I just believe she actually believed the words of this passage. And she wanted us to believe them too. I’ll grant you that the approach was a bit simplistic and didn’t always seem that helpful in the most trying of times, but she meant well.
So why exactly is worry a sin? Or, better yet, why is Jesus telling us/encouraging us not to be anxious? In Matthew 6, He speaks of this anxiety in relation to the food we eat, the clothing we wear, and to our bodies in general, telling us not to be anxious about these things. It’s not because you don’t need them. It’s that these things are small things to God, and more importantly, that you are NOT a small thing to Him.
The logic is this…the birds of the air and the flowers of the field receive what they need. You are of infinitely more value to the Father than these. He will provide for your needs, so do not be anxious about them.
It is Godly wisdom and sound logic. So what do we do with it? Is Jesus saying you don’t need to work for these things? No. That would contradict what He says in the rest of Scripture. Is He saying you don’t need to plan for them? No. That too would contradict Scripture (as we’ll see Sunday in Proverbs). The Word commands us to work. The Word tells us to plan wisely. But the Word tells us we can do these things without fear or anxiety because our God and Father is sovereign over all things.
Yet there is more in the passage. It is not merely that we let go of anxiety. We are to replace the old worry with a new priority. “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.” This is our new priority in planning. Anything less is simply…lesser. Maybe we’re starting to get back to the heart of Mimi’s old saying. Do you remember how she always used to say “Worry is a sin?” Worry starts to creep in when I make a lesser desire more important than a motivation for the glory and priority of God’s Kingdom and His righteousness.
I wish it were easy. We all know it isn’t. But that doesn’t diminish truth. So we keep reminding our hearts that God is good, and that God is great. Over time, we’ll grow to believe it more and more. And with that truth in our hearts, let us plan well, free of anxiety, with a focus on the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.
Questions for personal reflection:
In what ways does anxiety over your present needs prevent you from planning well for the future?
In what ways do you spend too much time planning for the future, neglecting God’s provision for today?